God Manifests his Mercy through Miracles

By Dr. Mary Healy (Article first published in Pentecost Today: Fall 2016; used with Permission)

For most of my life I have been accustomed to praying over people at prayer meetings and in other settings.  Occasionally, I would see a slight improvement such as a person with a headache or stomachache feeling better.  But in the past four or five years the Lord has been leading me on a journey to understand more about his healing power and how much he desires to do signs, wonders and miracles through ordinary people.

    In the fall of 2013, I had a sabbatical semester — a time for focused research in a particular area — and decided to study healing, not only by reading about it in books but by seeing it in action.  During that time I went, along with a team, on a two-week mission in Brazil.  There we saw miracles day after day — people with tumors, crippling arthritis, blindness, deafness, and many other conditions miraculously healed by the Lord.  That mission was life-changing, and since when I’ve been seeking to put into practice what Jesus told his disciples to do  “heal the sick…and say to them, “The kingdom of God has some near to you,” (Lk 10:9).

    I’ve become convinced that God wants a far greater manifestation of his healing power in the Catholic Church — not as something novel and marginal, but as a restoration of something that is at the heart of our tradition.    The supernatural gifts of the Spirit are part of our inheritance as baptized believers.  They are the normal equipment that Christ has bestowed on his bride the Church for carrying out her evangelistic mission.  The use of these gifts tangibly manifests God’s mercy to those who are in need of it, especially to the spiritual orphans who surround us in today’s society.

    The gifts are not for our sake but for those whom God

wants to touch through us.  When Damian Stayne gave a weekend healing conference, I was struck by the challenge he gave to our prayer ministry team.  “Do you want to be used by God for healing?” he asked.  “Yes!” everyone shouted enthusiastically.  “Then are you willing to be seriously inconvenienced for the rest of your life?”  There was some serious laughter before everyone said “Yes!” again.

    I’ve found  his words to be true.  I believe ALL Christians can see healings if we learn to pray with expectant faith.  But if people think you have a gift for healing, they may call or email you at inconvenient times.  At a conference or prayer meeting you may find a long line of people waiting for prayer, and as you get toward the end you find it has only grown longer.  You may be the last person to leave at night.  But it is all worth it when you see the amazement and joy in a person healed by the Lord.

   Like natural gifts, the supernatural gifts grow with practice.  As we take risks in faith, the Lord shows his faithfulness.  One of the first times that I practiced using words of knowledge at a prayer meeting, I received in prayer only a slight impression of some specific healings.  I wasn’t sure if it was Lord or only my thoughts, but I decided to step out in faith.  After our time of worship I said, “I think there is a man here who has a skin condition and is also experiencing same-sex attraction; the Lord wants to heal both of these things.  I think there is a woman who has spent time in jail and is ashamed of that.  I also think there is someone here with pain in your left ankle.  The Lord is going to heal it.  I won’t ask you to identify yourselves, but if one of these words applies to you,

let me know afterwards if you’d like. 

    After the prayer meeting, not one but two men came to me separately.  Both had a skin condition and same-sex attraction, and in both cases the word had greatly stirred up their faith that they would be healed.  And not one but two women came to me separately; both told they had been in jail, and one said the word confirmed her sense that the Lord was calling her to jail ministry.  No one came to mention a hurt ankle however…but later the prayer ministry leader told me that two people had come for prayer for pain in their left ankle, and both, had been completely freed from pain.  The Lord gave me double for my trouble!

    I’m becoming more alert to opportunities to use healing in evangelization.  Recently I was at a conference in a secular venue and I began chatting with the young woman who was working the coffee bar.  I shared with her a little about the conference, which was on the Holy Spirit.  She told me she was Catholic but had stopped going to church because she was a single mom living with her boyfriend.  As I shared with her about God’s love, it was evident that she missed having a connection with God.  I asked her if she had pain anywhere in her body and explained that Jesus is alive and he loves to heal.  She did have severe back pain.  So I prayed a very simple prayer over her back, and the Lord instantly took away her pain.  There were tears in her eyes; clearly the Lord was using that outward sign to touch her heart.  I encouraged her to look for a priest to talk to and return to church, where the Lord was longing to welcome her home. 

I believe the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is entering a new phase.  In the early decades God raised up people with extraordinary healing gifts such as Fr. Emiliano Tardif, Fr. Ralph DiOrio, and Sr. Briege McKenna.  They are pioneers who have cleared a path and helped Catholics realize what is possible.  But now Jesus is calling all his disciples to proclaim the gospel with great faith that God will accompany out witness with signs, wonders, mighty deeds, and distributed gifts of the Spirit (see Heb 2:4). 

(Article from Fall 2016 Issue of Pentecost Today published by the National Service Committee.) 

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